The following is a summary of “Plasma neurofilament light chain in association to late-life depression in the general population,” published in the October 2023 issue of Psychiatry by Schuurmans et al.
Late-life depression is a rising concern, requiring a deeper exploration of its biological basis, potentially involving plasma neuroaxonal damage biomarkers, necessitating further research.
Researchers started a retrospective study to determine the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of neurofilament light chain (NfL) with depression in middle-aged and elderly individuals, compared to total tau, β-amyloid 40 and 42.
They enrolled 3,895 participants (with an average age of 71.78 years (standard deviation = 7.37), and 53.4% were women) from the population-based Rotterdam Study. Between 2002 and 2005, NfL, total tau, β-amyloid 40, and β-amyloid 42 levels in blood were measured, and depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Incident depressive events were tracked, covering clinically relevant depressive symptoms, depressive syndromes, and major depressive disorders. This involved CES-D, clinical interviews, and medical record follow-up over a median of 7.0 years (with an interquartile range of 1.80). Their analysis involved the use of linear and Cox proportional hazard regression models.
The results showed log2 pg/mL increment in NfL, there was a cross-sectional connection with a higher number of depressive symptoms (with an adjusted mean difference of 0.32, 95% CI 0.05-0.58). It was also linked to an elevated risk of any incident depressive event over time (with a hazard ratio of 1.22, 95% CI 1.01-1.47). A higher amyloid-β 40 level was cross-sectionally related to increased depressive symptoms (with an adjusted mean difference of 0.70, 95% CI 0.15-1.25).
They concluded that high plasma NfL levels may contribute to late-life depression.